The Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) Mr Antonio Guterres has said society pays the cost when the freedoms of journalists are taken away.
Mr Guterres said civic space has been shrinking worldwide at an alarming rate and with anti-media rhetoric on the rise, so, too, are violence and harassment against journalists, including women.
The UN boss, in a statement to commemorate World Press Freedom Day, today, Friday, 3 May 2019, said he is deeply troubled by the growing number of attacks and the culture of impunity against journalists.
According to UNESCO, almost 100 journalists were killed in 2018 and hundreds imprisoned.
“When media workers are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price,” he stated.
According to the UN boss, a free press is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights.
He said no democracy is complete without access to transparent and reliable information. “It is the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions, holding leaders accountable and speaking truth to power. This is especially true during election seasons,” he added.
Mr Guterres called on all to defend the rights of journalists, whose efforts help to build a better world.
This year’s celebration is being marked in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on the theme: “Media for Democracy, Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation.”
In Ghana, the Akufo-Addo-led government has said it is in the process of implementing a Media Capacity Enhancement Programme (MCEP) to boost the capacity of media practitioners in the delivery of their mandate in the country.
This was contained in a statement signed by Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, as Ghana joins the rest of the world to mark World Press Freedom Day, today.
Despite the many attacks on journalists recorded over the years in the country, the government said “the protection of media practitioners is also to witness a boost with the introduction of a coordinating mechanism on the safety of journalists before July.”
The government further acknowledged the risk of disinformation and thus admonished media practitioners to adhere to factual reportage always.
The government further reiterated its commitment to supporting measures that deepen the frontiers of free expression in the advancement of Ghana’s democracy.